Does Grammar Matter?

Another quick one this week – I wanted to leave you with this awesome TED-Ed video about grammar, which asks if it actually matters, and goes a little further in describing two approaches to linguistics: Prescriptivism (how people should speak) and Descriptivism (how they actually do speak).

It’s pretty interesting in that it touches on a few things I’ve mentioned here before, such as allowing grammatically incorrect phrases into one’s written work because they just flow better than the technically correct version (eg. “there’s lots of reasons” vs. “there’re lots of reasons”).

I’ve also touched upon prescriptivism before, without knowing it by that name. When I call for things to be grammatically correct it’s prescriptivist. I’m generally not aiming to be the grammar police for the sake of it, but because being accurate about grammar in writing retains more meaning. But beyond that, as pointed out in the video, a consequence of the prescriptivist view is that it’s the people in power who get to decide what “proper language” is, at the risk of disenfranchising a lot of alternative cultures and viewpoints.

Anyway, go watch the video, because it’s well-presented and easily digestible, and this lady definitely knows a lot more about linguistics than I do. Enjoy!

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